“Just call me angel of the morning, baby
Just touch my cheek before you leave me, baby…”
Juice Newton’s version of Angel Of The Morning is playing on the radio when I wake up.
The day for my doctor’s appointment is finally here. It is my first appointment. Some days before my appointment, mum called me on phone and gave me pre-appointment counseling. She was like –
Mum: Bobby, when you reach the hospital, dey patient o. Person wey dey go Teaching Hospital dey get patience.
Me: Okay, ma.
Mum: No be small thing them do you, you vex waka comot. Nah you need the help o.
Me: Mummy, I know.
Mum: Ehen! Just bring ya mind down. Dey do like mumu until you get wetin you want. You hear?
Me: Yes ma.
Mum knows me very well. She knows I am not much of a patient person, and I snap easily. Two statements I hate most are, “Wait for me, I’m coming” and “Please join the queue.” I’d rather you wait for me to come or I come back when you’re free.
I wake up quite early because I know what visiting a Teaching Hospital is like. I leave my house by 7:10am, and before 7:45am, I am at the hospital. The environment is quite scanty for a Teaching Hospital. It is like a scene from a Resident Evil movie. I walk into the lobby, and sit down at a spot. I observe for a while. I notice how people walk to a window and obtain a blue teller before they go on about any business they came for. I follow suit. I walk to the window and I obtain a teller for N500. I watch other blue-teller holders walk through a door with “DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY MEDICINE” written boldly above it. As I walk in, I notice they are all handing their tellers to a guy sitting at a desk.
I am about to rate the guy on my cuteness scale of 1 – 10. But the face…something is wrong with that face. And then, I realize that I know the face. It belongs to Amakiri, my fellow corper. I immediately turn around and walk out.
He even scores 3 on my scale. Mtcheeeeewww!
I walk down the hall, till I meet a doctor walking toward me. I know I have a charming smile, so I quickly put one on.
Me: Hello, good morning.
Doctor: Good morning. How can I help you?
I don’t want to start talking about my status on the corridor like that, so I just hand him my lab result. He goes through it.
Doctor: Okay, this is what you’ll do. Go there… (He points towards the direction where I am just coming from) Tell them you want to see a doctor. When it’s your turn, he will guide you. Have you been counseled?
The doctor smiles at my response.
Doctor: Just go there…
I simply nod my head.
Me: One more thing, please. The place you asked me to go to, is it like a place for HIV patients?
Doctor: No, they will refer you to the special clinic from there.
Me: Okay. Thank you.
There is no way I can dodge Amakiri now. I comfort myself with the fact that at least he isn’t going to know what I am here for.
I walk to Amakiri’s desk and greet him, as I tender my teller to him. He demands a consultancy few of N500. I pay and I’m given a number. Throughout our exchange, I keep on a stony expression to discourage any small talk. I go to the waiting room and settle down. I do my best to wait. I almost leave the hospital at some point. Apparently there is a meeting going on, and we are informed the doctors won’t start seeing patients till 10:00 am. It is already 10:45. It is the thought of mum that gave me the fortitude to wait. I have to do this for her.
It is 11:20 when the doctors dismiss from their stupid meeting. They all walk out from the meeting room and up to Amakiri’s table, to share patient folders amongst themselves. I don’t know who picks mine, but my prayer is for it not to be a female doctor. I wait patiently as names are called. My patience is growing thin, and my phone battery is dying out. I get anxious when my phone is about to die. I really don’t know why.
Finally my name is called.
I walk into the consulting room, and it is a male doctor. He offers me a seat and asks me what my problem is. I tell him I was just diagnosed with HIV, and I don’t know where to start from or what to do. He refers me to the “Special Clinic”. That’s what they call it these days.
I walk into the “Special Clinic”. And all the consulting rooms are empty, except one. In it sits a doctor, a cute, muscular, light-skinned man, in his late thirties, I guess. He is sitting with a lady, and they are talking and eating fruits. I sit outside, where he can see me, so he’ll know someone is waiting. After a while, they both walk out, and start past me like I am not there. I heed mum’s advice and ignore the impoliteness. I call for his attention.
Me: Excuse me! Can I talk to you privately?
Doctor: What’s the problem?
Me: I was referred here from the other clinic…
I hand him the documents I have in my hands. He goes through them.
Doctor: Okay, you’re in the right place. But the problem is this, first of all, the special clinic only runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Then secondly, we are on strike. So I really don’t know how to help you. But just come back tomorrow being Tuesday.
I simply thank him and walk away. All the time I spent waiting, just gone like that. I am pissed. I get on a taxi home. When I alight from the taxi, the driver gives me a torn fifty naira note and zooms off. I want to chase after him, then I picture how crazy I’ll look.
I shrug it off and walk into my compound. I am about to open my door, when the landlady stops me at my door and demands my quota of the monthly NEPA bill. Inside me, I leap with joy. Finally, I have found someone to vent my anger on.
Landlady: Brother o, welcome. We dey collect money for NEPA bill o.
I ignore her and continue opening my door to go inside.
Landlady: Sir? Sir o… (She walks up to my door)
Me: So, if I enter house before I give you the money, NEPA no go collect am again? By the way, where the one wey we pay last month? Light we never see, you dey come collect another one. No be our light wey NEPA cut so?
I shut my door in the face of the startled woman, and moments later, I come out with briefs on. I start knocking on the doors of fellow tenants.
Tenant 1: Wetin happen?
Tenant 2: Bobby, how far?
Me: When last we pay NEPA bill abeg? Since then, light don come?
Tenant 2: (Turns to Tenant 1) Shebi I been tell you? I been reason the same thing o, I just been no wan talk.
Me: Now she dey say make we pay again… wey the one we don pay? We want to see the receipt.
Landlady: Wetin go happen be say, we go call meeting this evening.
Me: Which meeting? I no dey attend any yeye meeting. And if anybody knock for my door for evening, e go be me and that person. As I never even enter house, you hook me for outside to bring NEPA bill, na so NEPA tell you to do? See, all this rubbish wey dey happen for this lodge… We go pay NEPA bill, light we no go see… When we contribute money to pump water, tank no go full, fuel go finish… Make e stop today o. Because person dey keep quiet for una since…
Tenant 2: Bobby e don do, no vex…
Me: I never even enter house, she just mount me for outside like say I dey owe her. Which kind of rubbish be that?
Landlady: Oga sorry o, abeg no vex, my mind no reach there.
Me: How your mind go reach there, when na money you wan chop.
Tenant 1: Bobby! Relax nah. No worry, we go talk am for night.
Me: Make I enter bathroom first. If water no run, na there trouble go dey. Cause we contribute money to pump water this morning.
I storm off back inside, to my bathroom and turn the shower on. Fortunately for her, water poured forth from the shower. I have vented my anger. I feel a little bit relieved. I take my bath, pick my laptop and leave my house. I usually sit down at a fast-food to write, till evening.
When it is getting late, I leave for my house. When I walk into the compound, there is a meeting going on. I simply throw out a greeting and walk on by. I go into my room, turn my laptop on, and start watching Empire, my current favourite TV show.
Written by Bobby